by TonyIt is truly amazing how Bird Identification and Butterfly & Moth Identification have very similar parallels. The intricacies of bird identification can run deep, especially in finite feather detail and we are always striving to age birds, i.e. 1st summer / 1st winter / near adult / juvenile etc, etc.Birding Frontiers Website admirably demonstrates this, with so many pioneering articles on Bird Identification. The same processes can apply to the identification of Butterfles & Moths, the parallels are incredible, with one exception – we then really start to get intricate!!
Let me explain:-Below we have three pairs of photos – 4 Butterfly species & 2 moth species.
Pair A: Wood White ButterfliesThe Wood White Leptidea sinapis, is found locally in Britain but is common across Europe. The Eastern Wood White Laptidea duponcheli, is found locally in SE Europe with small scattered colonies in SE France & Italy. Both species are almost identical in the field until you examine their Antennae!!On Eastern Wood White (duponcheli), the Club-head of the Antenna is all Grey/Brown with an orange tip (as marked). Whilst on Wood White (sinapis), the Club-head of the Antenna is Grey on the upperside & white on the underside with an orange tip (as marked). This is diagnostic on both species and is a crucial ID feature. However you have to look closely and know that this part of the ID criteria in the first place. This was a true learning curve for me during a recent trip to Bulgaria where both species exist side-by-side.Eastern Wood White- Leptidea duponcheli – Grey Antenna-headWood White– Leptidea sinapis – White underside of Antenna-head
Pair B: Brown Argus and Common BlueTwo different species of common Butterfly both found in Britain & Europe but both are easily confused and miss-identified with regularity by the untrained eye.Observing the underwing of both these butterflies is crucial to the ID Process.In the Brown Argus – Aricia agestis, the two spots (as marked) on the underside of the hind wing are arranged one above the other but in the Common Blue – Polyommatus icarus, they are arranged (as marked) alongside each other.Brown Argus– Aricia agestis – underwing spots one above the other.Common Blue– Polyommatus icarus – underwing spots arranged alongside each other
Pair C: Prominent MothsTwo species of Prominent Moth, of the family Notodontidae and both species are reasonably common throughout Britain. In Lesser Swallow Prominent – Pheosia gnoma, there is a diagnostic bright white wedge-shaped “tornal streak” (as marked) but in Swallow Prominent – Pheosia tremula, the “tornal streak” is longer and less defined almost washed out.Lesser Swallow Prominent – Pheosia gnoma – white wedge-shaped “tornal streak”Swallow Prominent– Pheosia tremula – longer, slimmer and washed out “tornal streak”.Over the forth coming months I hope to put together various articles on fascinating Butterfly & Moth identification processes, all of which are true learning curves. Also what Moths & Butterflies to look out for during our British Seasons. My thanks go to the many entomologists out there that have discovered many new identification processes, all helping to pave the way forward.